THE news of the exhibition of Holocaust cartoons in Tehran took me back to a moment in my childhood. In 1974, his first year at Tehran’s Academy for Visual Arts, my brother mounted an exhibition of his own cartoons. The drawings were a novice’s best attempt at political satire, but they were enough to alarm my law-abiding father into sending my brother away to America. Our family was never whole again.
Back then, I thought my father had made the decision out of fear of Savak, the shah’s intelligence agency. Years later, I realized that it was not really fear but gratitude for all that a Jewish man had been able to achieve in Iran that prompted him to send my brother away.
Born and raised in the largely Muslim town of Khonsar, my father was admitted to the university against all odds, got a master’s degree, joined the military as a second lieutenant, went back to his village dressed in the first Western-style suit the locals had ever seen, then moved to Tehran to become a leading educator.
The New York Times, September 2, 2006